Vol. 11: Kuti, Elizabeth.

Type: Article

Kuti, Elizabeth. ‘Rewriting Frances Sheridan’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 11 (1996), pp 120-128.

This article discusses Frances Sheridan’s career as a playwright in eighteenth-century Ireland. Renowned for her novels The Memoirs of Miss Sidney Bidulph and Nourjahad, Sheridan’s plays have been overshadowed by her accomplishment as a novelist and by the work of her youngest son, Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The younger Sheridan’s play, The Rivals, is closely modelled on his mother’s earlier unperformed and incomplete play, A Trip to Bath. Kuti argues that the son’s play is an unsuccessful ‘rewriting’ of his mother’s work, and criticises the lack of realism in its language. Frances Sheridan’s concern with the relationship of women to language and literacy are issues that formed the basis of her experiences as a woman and as a writer, and these are reflected in her work. According to Kuti, “it is time for Frances Sheridan to emerge from the rewritings of her work and life that have obscured her contribution to Anglo-Irish drama and given her only a ghostly half-life, in plagiarised form, as the unacknowledged inspiration behind her son’s plays”. Other theatrical works by Frances Sheridan – such as The Discovery and The Dupe – are also considered and the article concludes with a plea that Frances Sheridan be written back into theatrical history and her works into the theatrical repertoire.